Chilean water resources
José F. Muñoz (Coordinator), Bonifacio Fernández, Eduardo Varas, Pablo Pastén, Diego Gómez, Pablo Rengifo, Jaime Muñoz, Mesenia Atenas, Juan C. Jofré, 2007. "Chilean water resources", The Geology of Chile, Teresa Moreno, Wes Gibbons
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This chapter examines the main characteristics of surface waters and groundwater deposits in Chile. The extreme variations in Chilean climate are reflected directly by huge differences in hydrological conditions, from the deserts of the north to the temperate rainforests of the south. The mountainous geomorphology, the presence of major basins, and the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the South Pole on oceanic currents and air masses, all also affect water distribution across the country. Anthropogenic demand for water resources, mostly for municipal wastewater, industry and agriculture, has created pollution problems that are currently being dealt with by application of new environmental legislation. Such problems are particularly acute in the north, where scarce water deposits, already commonly contaminated by naturally occurring metalliferous deposits, have been affected by extensive mining operations. In the centre of the country, where most of the population lives, the main challenges to a high quality water supply have been more associated with treating municipal wastewater. Further south, threats to clean water resources are often associated with effluents from cellulose plants and aquaculture.
The striking variations in Chilean climate from north to south, and therefore water supply, stem mainly from geographic location, topography and atmospheric circulation. The importance of geographic location derives from the position of the country along the southwestern side of the South American continent, with a corresponding strong influence from the Pacific Ocean and the South Pole. Movements of Antarctic and Subantarctic water currents and masses of polar air affect the whole country. Similarly,
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This book is the first comprehensive account in English of the geology of Chile, providing a key reference work that brings together many years of research, and written mostly by Chilean authors from various universities and other centres of research excellence. The 13 chapters begin with a general overview, followed by detailed accounts of Andean tectonostratigraphy and magmatism, the amazingly active volcanism, the world class ore deposits that have proven to be so critical to the welfare of the country, and Chilean water resources. The subject then turns to geophysics with an examination of neotectonics and earthquakes, the hazardous frequency of which is a daily fact of life for the Chilean population. There are chapters on the offshore geology and oceanography of the SE Pacific Ocean, subjects that continue to attract much research not least from those seeking to understand world climatic variations, and on late Quaternary land environments, concluding with an account examining human colonization of southernmost America.
During his voyage on H.M.S. Beagle, an extended visit to Chile (1834-35) had a profound impact on Charles Darwin, especially on his understanding of volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. Over more recent decades scientists have come to recognize the Chilean Andes as providing the classic example of a mountain belt produced by oceanic subduction beneath a continent, as well as some of the most dramatic scenic and climatic variations on Earth. In the final chapter, the editors offer a description of a drive from the Mediterranean landscapes of central Chile to the hyperarid Atacama Desert, a contribution designed to give visitors a chance to experience for themselves the geology and scenery of this extraordinary country.